In my ongoing attempt to enlighten the masses to independent and ethnic options in Orlando to support local business and combat the scourge of chains, we took the family last weekend to Beewon Korean Cuisine in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood. It's just up the street from Sand Lake's Restaurant Row and also very convenient to both Universal and I-4.
We're very familiar with Korean food and were excited to try this option as the other ones in Orlando are clear on the other side of town. If you aren't that familiar with Korean food, it's a great option for either kids or the less adventurous among your friends as it has a heavy emphasis on grilled/BBQ'd meats with spiceful but accessible flavors (I invented the word spiceful to convey full of flavor but not "hot" - seems to describe it well and I'm sticking with it)
Beewon is in a strip mall (aren't all Orlando restaurants?) with a Gator's Dockside and a pizza place. It has handsome decor heavy on wood and providing either the option of a convival group meal or some privacy. Some tables have grill elements built into the table for cooking at the table, but we were fine having the kitchen do the work for us, especially with the thought of a hot stove and pot at the table with a 5 and 1 year old.
We started with a "small" scallion pancake which was one of the better versions I've had, then my wife ordered the beef bulgogi and I had a tofu hot pot with steak. Now put out of your mind whatever you think of when you think tofu, the Korean's have a way with this dish that is AMAZING, and Beewon's version was top notch. The bulgogi was also tradtional and quite tasty. A great thing about Korean food is entrees are accompanied by 5 to 7 small dishes of various pickled and cold vegetables for noshing while you await your food ond throughout the meal. The dishes vary, but you'll always get some kimchi, and their version was solid if unspectacular.
They don't have a kids menu, but they will serve kids off the lunch menu at anytime, and our kids split a grilled chicken dish that is served like a bento box with sticky white rice, a vegetable and some warm miso-type broth. A big hit with the kids and we got them to eat out without resorting to the kiddie triumverate of mac 'n cheese, nuggets or pizza.
So if you are looking for a very good meal with some unique flavors, friendly service and authenticity, make your way to Beewon - and remember, support independent restauranteurs!
Beewon Korean Cuisine
5100 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819